From our kitchens: Spring salad with crispy spelt, toasted walnuts, goat’s cheese and basil vinaigrette

salad-8

This kind of spring salad would be found on many menus in Italy at this time of year. The addition of spelt (known by the Italian name “farro”) adds complexity and texture to the salad. Spelt is an ancient type of wheat with a pleasant nutty flavour that is available in most health food stores and larger grocery stores. This rice-like grain is still widely grown in the Alpine regions of Europe and in northern Italy, where simmered whole grains of spelt form the base of many meals.

Be sure to follow the steps outlined in making your own vinaigrette. Prepared or bottled salad dressings are rarely found in kitchens in France and Italy. Instead, everyday cooks and gourmet chefs rely on making their own dressings for salads. Give it a try – you’ll see that it’s both easy and delicious.

Also – although we have listed both weights (grams, etc.) and measures (1/2 cup, etc.) for your convenience, we strongly encourage all cooks to invest in a small kitchen scale that toggles between grams and ounces. After all, a cup of honey has a much different weight than a cup of icing sugar. You may find your recipes become even more delicious once you start relying on the precision of a scale.

 INGREDIENTS
 Spelt (dry, whole grain)  100g (just under 1/2 cup)
 Sea Salt  5 ml (1 teaspoon)
 For Cheese Motifs
 Butter (soft)  25g (about 2 tablespoons)
 Parmesan cheese (whole) finely grated  25g (about 1/4 cup)
 Egg whites  1
 Worcestershire or Tabasco sauce  1 drop
 Flour  5g (1 teaspoon)
 Herb Vinaigrette
 Raspberry wine vinegar  30 ml (2 tablespoons)
 Honey  5 ml (1 teaspoon)
 Shallots (finely minced)  10 g (about 1 small shallot)
 Dijon mustard  5ml (1 teaspoon)
 Olive oil and canola oil  45ml (3 tablespoons) of each kind
 Salt and pepper  To taste
 Salad
 Leafy greens (your choice)  250g (enough for four people)
 Walnuts (pieces)  40g (about 1/3 cup)
 Yellow pepper (cut julienne)  1 whole
 Goat’s cheese (soft, crumbled)  40g (about 1/3 of a cup)
 Dried cranberries (craisins)  60g (about 1/3 of a cup)
 Cheese motifs (procedure below)  4
 Herb vinaigrette (procedure below)
  Cooked spelt (procedure below)

 Method

To prepare spelt:

  • Simmer spelt in salted water for about 90 minutes, until tender.
  • Drain and set aside.

To prepare cheese motifs:

  • Preheat oven to 375F.
  • In a mixing bowl with paddle attachment, add butter, parmesan cheese, egg whites, Worcestershire sauce and bread flour.
  • Mix to a smooth paste.
  • Smooth out thinly on a parchment lined baker’s tray to desired shape and size, such as a feather shape.
  • Bake 3-4 minutes at 375F, until edges are golden.
  • Set aside.

 To prepare herb vinaigrette:

  • Whisk together vinegar, honey, shallots, mustard and basil, salt and pepper.
  • Slowly add the oils in a slow stream, whisking constantly until incorporated.
  • Set aside.

Other preparations:

  • Cut or tear up leafy greens into bite size pieces, wash and spin till dry.
  • Toast walnuts lightly in a 375 F oven. Remove and set aside.
  • Sauté spelt from step 1 in olive oil and season lightly with sea salt and pepper.

To assemble the salad:

  • Toss the greens with julienne pepper and vinaigrette.
  • Garnish with toasted walnuts, spelt, goat cheese, craisins and cheese motifs.
  • Enjoy!

Serves four